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Using dendrochronology to determine the production place of wooden artifacts and works of art

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9:50, Wednesday 29 Jun 2022 (15 minutes)
Symposium 7

Dendrochronology is a well-established science used to determine the date of wood from cultural heritage objects, and often, to infer the geographic origin of the wood withing certain regions. Dendrochronologists insists that this science provides a date and provenance for the wood, not the object. However, recent research shows that it may be possible to determine the production place of works of art based on the area supplying the wood, and on inferences about wood derived from individual trees. For example, knowledge about historical timber trade gained through decades of dendrochronological research in central and northern Europe provides a clear picture of the flows of timber in different periods from specific geographic areas into the historical Low Countries (current Netherlands and Belgium). Given that some parts of the Low Countries were preferentially supplied by specific areas, it is sometimes possible to propose the
production region of unattributed works of art. Similarly, linking wooden elements from different objects to individual trees can aid in the attribution of works of art to specific workshops. Several case studies from the Low Countries and Ancient Egypt will be presented to illustrate and discuss these propositions. Such results highlight the need to continue exploring and improving methods to determine the geographic origin of the wood and to systematically publish and describe intra-/inter-tree variability to improve inferences about timber derived from the same tree. Furthermore, they represent a great contribution to the attribution of wooden artifacts and works of art to specific production centres.

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